Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Yesterday we covered what happens within our body when we live our crazy, hectic lives without rest and offered some suggestions to help you slow down and replenish much needed energy reserves.
Today let's talk about what happens when we don’t listen to our body and continue to push it with ever increasing demands. Stress comes in many different forms: high pressure study, a house full of kids and competing demands, job stress, relationship breakdown and even grief.
So, what even is adrenal fatigue? The easy answer is it is a collection of signs and symptoms that result from tired adrenal glands that are no longer able to provide balanced amounts of neurotransmitter and steroid hormones.
It can be difficult to diagnose and may require you to have a blood, urine or saliva test performed by a practitioner trained to treat adrenal fatigue. Many medical doctors are unfamiliar with this condition for the simple reason that it is difficult to diagnose effectively by traditional blood tests. Conventional blood tests set their ranges to detect adrenal failure (Addison’s Disease) which is very different from adrenal fatigue.
We identified yesterday that many of us are WIRED FOR SOUND. We painted an all too familiar picture of feeling pumped and pushing through any feelings of tiredness because of everything you need to do before you go to bed, struggling to get to sleep or waking up in the early hours of the morning unable to get back to sleep, brain fog on waking no matter how many hours you laid in bed, food cravings like chocolate and coffee to get you through afternoon and a weight gain that just seems unfair!
If we don’t listen to our body and slow down, reassess and re-prioritise our lifestyle choices then we start the next cascade of events.
Our adrenal system remains on constant high alert pushing out more and more adrenaline and even more of the stress hormone, cortisol. With repeated exposure to high levels of cortisol over weeks, months or even years our tissues become increasingly resistant to this important hormone. The adrenal glad is asked to work harder and harder to achieve the same results. Eventually it starts to fatigue.
Our adrenal glands consist of three main layers – and they thankfully don’t all fail at once. In some people the cortex (which manufactures and secretes cortisol and other hormones) fails first; in others the medulla (which makes the adrenaline) collapses first. This can lead to states of mixed adrenal output – high cortisol with low adrenaline or low cortisol with high adrenaline. It may show itself with some old symptoms resolving, some getting worse and perhaps new ones emerging.
The symptoms of high and low adrenaline and cortisol levels can look very similar to each other. It can be tricky to work out on yourself what your adrenal glands are up to which is why it is always important to consult with a practitioner to give you better insight.
Our topic for today, feeling WIRED, TIRED & SICK is a symptom of low adrenaline and high cortisol.
We haven’t changed our lifestyle factors. The stress is still there. We are wired. Now that you are aware of the stress and the impact it may be having on your body, it is important to understand something very important. Stress is not what happens to you. It is the way you consciously or unconsciously respond to events in your life. Once you recognise this – you are in a better position to take proactive steps to managing your responses.
Adrenaline levels are declining. You are finding it hard to maintain that high level of energy that you felt when you were WIRED FOR SOUND. You may find yourself relying even more heavily on caffeine and sugar to get you through the day.
We know that cortisol is responsible for maintaining blood sugar, metabolism regulation and immune response. With ever increasing cortisol levels you may find your weight gain increasing because the hormone is telling your digestion and metabolism to slow down at the same time as wanting a higher blood sugar to help your body prepare for imminent stress. When your body is trying to react to stress (run away from danger) it doesn’t perceive digestion and metabolism as crucial functions. You may find you have symptoms of IBS and weight gain disproportionate to food intake. High level of cortisol also suppresses your immune system, again your body doesn’t need to fight infections when you are running away from danger. The problem is of course that the danger is our every day life and we can’t always run away from it. At least not without a conscious effort to change. We find ourselves picking up every bug that is going around because our immune system is being dampened and we don’t fight it off easily.
Our body is screaming at us to stop, renew and heal. If we choose not to listen to it we run the risk of adrenal burn out. But we can listen! We can make changes to our lifestyle that will help minimise our stress reactions and help our adrenal glands to reenergise and reset.
You may recognise some of these suggestions from yesterday:
* Reassess the stress. Work out strategies to minimise or eliminate some of the stress from your day. You may need help to do this. Speak with a counsellor, your boss, a financial consultant, a friend. Without addressing this one key factor the other suggestions are going to much less effective. You can utelise essential oils throughout the day to help you manage your response to stress – deep inhalations of essential oils like Balance grounding blend or Peace reassuring blend will help you to think calmer about the tasks at hand.
* Prioritise nutrition and don’t skip meals. Consider your diet and try and get as many wholefoods, fruits and vegetables as you can in. Consider a high quality nutritional supplement like dōTERRA Life Long Vitality to fill in all the gaps that your diet may have. Your nutrition is foundational to overall health and wellbeing.
* Self care. Find time for you. Each and every day. Even if it is only 10 minutes of quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up. Do something that you love in those moments. Something that fills up your cup.
* Gentle Exercise. What your body doesn’t need right now is to be pushed to extremes physically which further depletes your adrenals. Your wholistic body is struggling and needs to be nurtured. Gentle exercise will be more beneficial to you right now. Consider walking, stretching, yoga, pilates. Practice mindfulness techniques as you exercise.
* Sleep. Restorative sleep is the aim. Consider lifestyle factors that impact sleep – electronic devices emit blue light that tells our brain to stay awake, caffeine can take up to 8 hours to leave our body, strenuous exercise right before bed can pump out endorphins that keep us awake, alcohol can cause restless sleep. Introduce a sleep routine into your life: set your alarm for the same time every morning and listening to your body’s natural cues for when it is releasing sleep hormones at night, have a warm shower followed by aromatically dressing in calming essential oils like lavender, roman chamomile, sandalwood, cedarwood or vetiver, read an old fashioned paperback and put your diffuser on with more relaxing essential oils to keep you settled throughout the night.
* Energise. On waking, spend 5 minutes in sunshine – even if it’s while eating your breakfast or enjoying your morning brew. The natural sunlight helps to reset your circadian rhythm and sleep hormones.
Essential oils that you may find beneficial to incorporate into your daily routine:
* Cinnamon Bark essential oil is known to strengthen the endocrine system of which our adrenals form a part of as well as support the central nervous system and help balance blood sugars. It promotes physical energy and stimulates the immune system. Another neat thing about Cinnamon Bark is that it can amplify the action of other essential oils.
* Clove essential oil stimulates the vagal nerve to activate a digestive cascade which improves overall digestive health. Clove has also traditionally been used to stimulate healthy circulation, higher energy levels, and relieve fatigue associated with adrenal burnout. It boosts the mood and relieves stress.
* Rosemary essential oil is brilliant at supporting the adrenal glands and has been researched for its ability to decrease cortisol levels in the body within minutes of inhalation. As a side benefit it is also good for energy and memory which often suffer with adrenal fatigue.
Or if you are like me and want convenience, because let’s face it, we are in this mess because we feel like we have so much to and no time to do it – then opt for an essential oil blend like dōTERRA On Guard protective blend.
* dōTERRA On Guard protective blend contains Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Wild Orange, Eucalptus and Rosemary… all the essential oils (and more) that are frequently recommended to assist with adrenal fatigue.
I would suggest applying well diluted individual oils or dōTERRA On Guard protective blend to the soles of your feet, focusing on the inner arch of the foot where the adrenal reflex point is located. You could apply this morning and night as part of your dressing routine.
If you feel the need for a boost throughout the day consider diffusing dōTERRA On Guard protective blend and Peppermint essential oil for an invigorating lift. On Guard protective blend has the added benefit of providing some immune support which may be beneficial if your immune system is compromised. Peppermint also blends well with Basil essential oil which is great for energy and concentration and make a lovely diffuser blend to pick you up in the morning or mid afternoon.
Remember the good news! Stress is not what happens to us but our reaction to the event. This means that we can learn better ways to respond to events and support our body and in turn improve our health. Our body wants to heal itself and live in optimal health.
If this blog resonates with you and you want to chat more about ways to enhance your health naturally then I would love to hear from you. You can learn a little more about CPtG essentials here.